Whether it was rain, hail, sleet or snow, inside of Male High School, the sun was always shinning. The warm and bubbling personality of recent Male graduate Taliyah Townsend would brighten the hallways, classrooms, faculty and peers as she graced Male High with her presence.
In her senior year, the National Honor Society vice president and Beta Club member had another important responsibility on her agenda, and that was capturing the attention of everyone in track and field.
In an impressive individual performance winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter state titles at the Republic Bank/KHSAA Class 3A State Championships at the University of Kentuckyâ€™s Outdoor Track Complex, Townsend helped Male win their first state crown in 44 years.
â€œIt means a lot because we havenâ€™t won state since 1972,â€ Townsend says. â€œSo for me to go out there and work hard, I knew it was going to earn points for my team. Coach Beaumont deserved it because she has been coaching for a while, so I know she is happy and proud.â€
Townsend was in a neck-and-neck race in the 100 meters, getting the narrow victory with 11.95 seconds over Bryan Stationâ€™s Brooke Raglin by .01 second. She said she knew it was going to be a tight race, so throughout the week prior, she practiced intently, focusing on starting, finishing and leaning. And by the tip of her nose, she was crowned champ.
â€œI knew [Brooke Raglin] was going to come because she was runner-up in state last year, so she was the favorite to win the 100 this year. To be honest, I didnâ€™t go into it thinking I was going to win it, but luckily, I pushed through, leaned and I won. I was pumped and excited because I had been working my butt off.â€
Setting aside a social life, Townsend worked hard her senior year balancing both academics and athletics. As a student who completed high school with a 3.8 cumulative grade point average, she grappled in her confidence when it came to the 400 meters. Her personal trainer and mother, Tamika, who was a state champion in the 400 at Eastern High School, told her to remember one thing: Always believe in herself.
She said her goal wasnâ€™t to win the race but to run under her personal record of 56.00 seconds. She finished with a time of 55.46 seconds and says she was proud of herself due to how much work she put into the preparation.
With two titles down, there was only one left to go. Being ranked number one in both the 400 meters and 200 meters brought pressure to Townsend as she strove to live up to the expectations. But to alleviate any pressure, she says she reminded herself of how hard she worked and how all she had to do was show up and put it out there.
The culminating moment came in the 200 meters. After placing first in two events where winning wasnâ€™t the primary focus, she went into the 200 chasing victory. She finished with a time of 24.63 seconds.
â€œMy goal was to just win it because this is my favorite race. In my mind, I said, â€˜Let me go ahead and win.â€™ I have already won two, so let me win this last race so I can make my coach and mom proud.â€
Townsend adds that her senior leadership was an essential part to her team capturing a state title. As a freshman, she sat under the wings of the senior class understanding she would one day fill their shoes.
â€œOnce they left, they all told me that I have to step up,â€ she says. â€œI had to step up and be a leader because a lot of people are watching me. I know whatever I do, younger teammates would try to follow in those footsteps, so I had to make sure we were on track of taking care of business and, as a team, being close and confident.â€
When asked what it meant to win state in her individual events, Townsend embraced her titles seeing them as a â€œhump that I got over, but I still have business to take care of in college.â€
Taliyah is leaning toward Baylor University to run track but hasnâ€™t made a decision yet, but she plans to keep running toward success by studying biology to one day become a pharmacist. VT